Scotland ‘yes’ vote to make mobiles and broadband more expensive

If Scotland votes in favour of independence on Thursday, then the prices of broadband and mobile phone deals are likely to go up for those north of the border, several major providers have warned Scottish voters…

Families in Scotland may soon be forced to pay a lot more for their broadband and mobile phone deals if the nation votes 'yes' to independence.

The bosses of almost every major provider have signed an open letter outlining their commitment to provide an "affordable" and "high quality" service to the UK, which the people of Scotland may choose to leave when the referendum is held this Thursday.

If Scotland leaves the UK, then prices north of the border may have to increase to keep things affordable for households in England and Wales to whom the commitment will still apply.

Signatories include the chief executives of BT, EE, O2, TalkTalk, Three and Vodafone.

It said: "We may need to modify our networks to reflect the reality of an independent Scotland. And we may need to consider whether to modify the services we offer in Scotland, given its demanding topography and low population density.

"Any of these factors could lead to increased industry costs."

Currently, rural parts of Scotland are covered by government funding for superfast broadband and better mobile phone infrastructure.

For example, the £410million Digital Scotland programme, paid for by the UK government in partnership with BT and the European Regional Development Fund, is aiming to provide fibre optic broadband to 95% of homes in Scotland by 2018.

However, the majority of this funding could be in jeopardy if Scotland votes 'yes' to independence, so Scottish households may have to wait a long time to receive the kind of internet speeds and improved mobile services the UK will be enjoying in years to come.

The problem is, Scotland's a mountainous country that's very sparsely populated in its vast rural areas. This makes laying fibre optic broadband cables, and erecting new mobile phone masts, very expensive for service providers.

Like most companies, providers are willing to put money into areas where their investment will result in decent profits. Unfortunately, the population gaps in rural Scotland don't allow for that.

In order to make their investment commercially viable, providers would have to increase their prices to remain profitable.

Without the rest of the UK to help providers in Scotland spread the high deployment costs, Scottish customers may be forced to pay more for their broadband and mobile phones, and would likely have to settle for slower, less reliable services.

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